Truckenmiller and Chandler (2023) provide an overview of some of the research around effective writing instruction positively impacting on both writing and reading achievement. The following in an outline of their key points:
Theories of reading and writing co-development
- Reading and writing build on each other.
- The exact model of the interrelationship between the two continues to be debated.
- All writing occurs in a socio-cultural context and consideration of this perspective is necessary for contextualising writing instruction.
- The Direct and Indirect Effects of Writing model (DIEW) draws on multiple cognitive theories, has been replicated in multiple studies and focuses on skills and knowledge that can be taught.
- Writing instruction enhances reading instruction in two critical ways:
1. The process of spelling creates a deeper connection between phonology (sound), orthography (letters) and morphology (meaning).
2. The act of handwriting reinforces the connection via tactile, visual and auditory input.
- Oral language, especially in terms of vocabulary and grammar knowledge, is directly related to reading comprehension and writing composition.
- Connecting vocabulary and sentences in written work requires inferencing, reasoning, monitoring, perspective-taking and self-regulation which are all critical reading comprehension skills.
- In terms of writing, self-regulation involves setting goals regarding content, activating knowledge, skills and strategies and overcoming challenges, and all of these processes underpin effective reading.
- Self-regulation, executive function (including working memory, inhibitory control and self-shifting) and content knowledge influence reading and writing success. However:
* Direct instruction cannot improve executive function capacity.
* Limits on working memory can be alleviated by strategies such as writing notes.
* Writing about a topic effectively increases content knowledge.
Writing at the sub-word level
- Explicitly teach the alphabetic principle (letters and letter combinations represent sounds).
- Reinforce through handwriting instructions and then transfer to keyboarding skills.
- Explicitly teach letter formation by modelling and clear directions (start at the top line, go straight down to the bottom line….).
- Provide multiple practice opportunities.
Writing at the word level
- Spelling instruction has a moderate impact on improving word reading and comprehension compared to reading instruction in isolation.
- Instruction should focus on the explicit teaching of grapheme-phoneme correspondences, common letter patterns/sequences, syllabification, rules related to grapheme use and spelling patterns including adding morphemes, and strategies for remembering words that have irregular patterns or ‘break’ rules.
- Explicitly teach morphology, especially in middle school and beyond.
- Provide multiple opportunities to practise with immediate and targeted feedback from a teacher or more knowledgeable peer.
Writing at the sentence level
- Provides a bridge between the word and discourse levels of language.
- Sentence combining has been shown to be particularly effective (i.e., rewriting basic or kernel sentences into more syntactically complex sentences).
- Sentence combining exercises can be embedded across all subjects.
Writing at the text level
- The research indicates that effective activities for improving writing involves reading a text and then responding to the text (e.g., personal reactions), writing a summary, taking notes and/or answering questions in writing.
- Explicitly teach the key elements of different genres and the organisation of these elements.
- Provide sufficient practice and scaffolding until mastery is achieved.
The fifth element – self-regulation
- Explicitly teach self-regulation strategies associated with the writing process including goal setting, self-instruction, self-monitoring and self-assessment.
- The Self-Regulated Strategy Development (SRSD) model comprises six stages – develop background knowledge, discuss it, model it, memorise it, support it and perform it independently.
Trukenmiller, A., & Chandler, B. (2023). Writing to read: Parallel and independent contributions of writing research to the science of reading. The Reading League Journal.4 (1), 5-11.